The 4th agricultural revolution is coming!

13th March 2019

Focusing on the digital revolution in feed and livestock farming was the highlight of the 6th Global Feed and Food Congress (GFFC) held in Bangkok in March. A new acronym was provided – Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) and the importance of ensuring that diets are absolutely specified for the farmed animals.  This very clearly represents a business opportunity for a high value nutritious product like fishmeal and fish oil, where the absolute nutritional values will be essential in optimizing growth and production efficiencies as we talk about in IFFO at length.  Digitialising agriculture is seen as the next (the 4th) agricultural revolution, and much was made of the adoption of new technology in the session.  A very interesting presentation on Blockchain looked at the application of that technology to animal protein production systems.  It was described as follows:

  • It is neutral - there are rules, but no “ruler”;
  • It auto-synchronises (provides real-time data);
  • It is permanent.

The “block” itself has 6 different aspects:

  1. A private key;
  2. A public key;
  3. A time stamp;
  4. A value;
  5. A description;
  6. A hashed history.

Blockchain was described within the context of a global food system that has a lot of data, but those data are generally under-utilised.  Blockchain provides a system where those data can be used, and which are readily accessible via smartphones.  This is a permanent record in the value chain, and although ingredients were not mentioned specifically the technology appears to lend itself well to marine ingredients where it may help to secure the integrity of the materials.  Further discussion and a presentation on PLF looked specifically at the role of technology in animal production systems, bringing into the debate some interesting comments on the importance of nutrition for animal health and welfare.  There was also emphasis on the importance of transparency in the value chain, something that was highlighted in the IFFO Annual Conference in Rome in 2018 as being important for the marine ingredients industry.

Author: Neil Auchterlonie

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